Monday, 26 February 2024

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Packaging Alternatives

When thinking about the future, one might think of futuristic cars or space travel into the great unknown of space. Many people would think the future would be a work of art only humans can make. What doesn’t get talked about a lot, however, is that many of these dreams and ideas for the future might be further from what might happen. The future may lead to a world where there is nothing but trash. Pollution can manifest in one or two ways, from single-use plastics or packaging that may never be recycled due to negligence. The future of our planet might be at stake with the increase in pollution, and with the rise of our planet’s temperature, the ice caps are melting at an alarming rate. This would destroy many coastal cities and even countries due to increased sea levels. Even now, we are starting to see the repercussions of not dealing with our waste and pollution. An article from CNN says that flooding is happening in Saudi Arabia, a region that is mainly arid and dry (2). Examples such as these will be commonplace in many countries around the world. Many of these countries, such as the United States, could even be first-world countries. We can start to reduce waste by finding alternatives to how we package our products.

There are some alternatives to packaging that many businesses today are resorting to. Some of these alternatives are cheaper and more environmentally friendly than some of the original packaging. Some examples of this would be as follows:

BIODEGRADABLE PACKING PEANUTS

Packing peanuts are little Styrofoam puffs that are put into a box to help protect the contents of the packaging. While these are usually effective, it does lead to a lot of waste in the long term. A solution to these would be to have biodegradable packaging peanuts. These would serve the same or similar functions as the original, but these become degraded over time and disappear in a timely manner compared to Styrofoam (1).

MUSHROOM PACKAGING

Something unique would be mushroom packaging. This would include a process that cleans and grounds agricultural waste and fuses the matrix of roots, known as mycelium (1). The packaging could then be molded into whatever is needed at the time. Agricultural waste is a problem for the industry, so having an alternative that also helps clean this waste would be extremely useful not only for this industry but could be applied to other industries where this specific packaging could be used.

PAPER FOAM

Paper Foam originated in the Netherlands, combining industrial starch, Natural fibers, water, and compostable material to make something light and renewable. This would help reduce carbon emissions during transport, and having it be flexible, can be molded to whatever the consumer or customer wants it to be (5).

These are just some examples of solutions that are in the works or that are being used now. There are, of course, more than the ones listed before. Seaweed is being used in packaging as it can be grown, and it will degrade naturally in the environment (4). People are always finding new and unique materials that can be used to help reduce the world's waste, but the packaging is just a small part of the bigger picture when it comes to helping our planet. That doesn't mean that just because it is small doesn't mean we should stop. This can help reduce the load in the long run, and every bit of this can help the future not be a place full of trash. There could be other solutions in the future that supersedes all these solutions that we have found, which would be beneficial.

The Earth is the only planet that we have. It isn’t something that we should take for granted or should ignore. There is no other place we can go when the Earth is uninhabitable from all our waste. This is our only planet, and we need to take care of it. Any program or solution we can come up with, no matter how small, can and will go a long way in helping reduce our waste, ultimately making our planet a better place to live in for all its inhabitants.

References

1. https://greenbusinessbureau.com/green-practices/products/packaging/8-eco-friendly-packaging-alternatives-for-your-businesss-shipping-needs/

2. https://www.cnn.com/videos/world/2022/11/25/jeddah-saudi-arabia-flooding-contd-lon-orig-na.cnn

3. https://www.industrialpackaging.com/blog/plastic-packaging-alternatives

4. https://ecomaniac.org/eco-friendly-packaging-alternatives/

5. https://designwanted.com/eco-friendly-packaging/

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